Wednesday, September 29, 2021

WWW Wednesday – September 29

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

There are several books I have been in the middle of for years. If they were really riveting, I probably would not have put them down half-read.  But in Luvvy and the Girls, I read that not completing a book is a sign of weak character.  This belief conflicts with an occasional "life is too short" mantra so I finish most books unless they are dreadful.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

France 2021, Day 13, Lyon and Château de Fléchères

I think most of the passengers were doing a winery tour this morning but we wanted to stroll around Lyon and I wanted to do some shopping. We had driven past one of the main shopping areas previously and it was a pleasant walk along the Rhône and then over the Pont de la Guillotière to what is called La Presqu’ile, between the Rhône and Saône rivers.
Château de Fléchères

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Down Under, a mystery by Patricia Wentworth

Title: Down Under (Benbow Smith #4)
Author: Patricia Wentworth
Publication: Aeonian Press, hardcover, 1976 (originally published in 1937; now available from Dean Street Press)
Genre: Mystery
Setting: England, 1930s
Description: Rose Anne Carew's disappearance the day before her wedding causes a huge scandal. The police assume she ran away with another man, although Rose Anne and her fiancé, Oliver Loddon, had seemed to be a happy young couple.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

France 2021, Day 12, Lyon and Perouges

We woke up in Lyon, anchored next to a fitness park where locals come to exercise by the river. The city seemed bright and sparkling. I finally tried a made-to-order omelet for breakfast but much prefer the French toast.  Of course, having breakfast prepared for me every day is bliss. Cruising is the life!
Basilica of Notre-Dame, Lyon
We set off on a tour of panoramic Lyon with guide Celine and the gray morning turned into a lovely day.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

France 2021, Day 11, Tournon and Vienne

On Thursday, we began with a short walking tour of Tournon-sur-Rhône, a town on the right bank of the river. You ask which is right and which is wrong – it is based on the direction the river is flowing, but having spent 17 years living in New York I know that the Hudson flows in two directions, so one can only hope that the Rhône is less contrary. It seemed like a pretty town with a castle that had been turned into a museum, an annual onion festival, and one of the oldest lycées in the country. Our guide Solène told a story about Francis I’s grandson being mysteriously poisoned while staying at the castle in Tournon.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

France 2021, Day 10, Viviers

On Wednesday, we walked from our ship, the Buri, down a beautiful tree-lined street to Viviers, a medieval walled town located in the Ardèche region of Provence. The town and its majestic cathedral basically perch on a large rock elevation overlooking the Rhone. The ascent was very steep and it was raining on and off – just enough to make you open your umbrella and then decide to close it five minutes later. I struggled on the cobblestone streets, which lead up to the top, and was sure someone would slip – possibly our guide Josette. I could hear her gasping for breath through the audio boxes we wore around our necks. Like many of our guides, she had suffered financially during the pandemic when tourism disappeared. She told us she had not spoken English in the last 18 months and apologized if she sounded rusty.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

France 2021, Day 9, Avignon

The whole affair began so very quietly.  When I wrote, that summer, and asked my friend Louise if she would come with me on a car trip to Provence, I had no idea that I might be issuing an invitation to danger.  And when we arrived one afternoon, after a hot but leisurely journey, at the enchanting little walled city of Avignon, we felt in that mood of pleasant weariness mingled with anticipation which marks, I believe, the beginning of every normal holiday. . . . 

Sur le Pont d'Avignon

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Eden Falls by Jane Sanderson

Title: Eden Falls
Author: Jane Sanderson
Publication: Sphere Books/Little Brown UK, trade paperback, 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: 1909 England and Jamaica
Description: Third in a trilogy, this book follows several families that became connected near the Yorkshire town of Netherwood.

Friday, September 17, 2021

France 2021, Day 8, Arles

An early start with chocolate croissants (and chatting with a nice couple from Nashville) before we boarded a bus for Arles. Our tour guide was a cheerful British woman named Shawn who has lived in Nimes for many years and was pleased to hear we had enjoyed our visit. She told us there were three important aspects to Arles: its Roman history, its connection with Vincent Van Gogh, and its recent development as a major modern art hub.
Inside the Arena at Arles

Thursday, September 16, 2021

France 2021, Day 7, to Avignon and the Buri

On Sunday morning we got up early to visit the Nimes cathedral in which David hides in chapter 5 of Madam, Will You Talk? The Nimes nightlife had gone on late but the narrow streets near the Arena were quiet now and just as we reached the Cathedrale Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Castor de Nimes a verger (if they still exist) unlocked it so we were able to go inside. The cathedral is believed to stand on the site of the former temple of Augustus. It is partly Romanesque and partly Gothic in style. St. Castor was a local bishop from Marseilles and Apt (a Provencal town in the Luberon mountains) who started out as a lawyer, proving there's redemption for anyone!
Not the most impressive cathedral from the outside

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

France 2021, Day 6, Nimes (part two)

The afternoon’s trip to Pont du Gard ended well but was nearly a disaster. We found the bus stop described by the tourism official quite easily and bought our train tickets to Avignon for the following day while we were waiting. The bus itself was very hot and full of noisy children but it was only half an hour’s ride. However, when the bus driver said, “Pont du Gard!” and dropped us off, we found ourselves in a town called Remoulins and a trickle of a river that wouldn’t have impressed many Romans (ancient or modern), although there were some families picnicking and wading on this hot Saturday.
My mother is curious about this tree
we keep seeing

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

France 2021, Day 6, Nimes (part one)

We were at the Nimes Tourism Office before it opened at 9 am to seek advice about visiting the Pont du Gard, which is between Nimes and Avignon. It is a majestic feat of ancient Roman engineering – an aqueduct bridge built in the first century AD to carry water from the Alps to the Roman colony of Nemausus, which became known as Nimes. Nimes is also the birthplace of denim: fabric de Nimes; get it? The tourism expert looked up the bus schedule for us and said told us to go at 1:40 pm and return at 4 pm, marking the bus schedule for us carefully. This sounded like it would work well with our plan to attend Mass at St. Baudile’s at 5:30 (note: if this saint is venerated - or even known - by a large number of Catholics, it is a surprise to me but his animal rights story would appeal to my former professor, Gary Francione).
The Maison Carrée

Monday, September 13, 2021

France 2021, Day 5, on the way to Nimes

I knew Friday would be the most stressful day and I am happy to report that we survived and I only became enraged once or twice. Fortunately, the taxi arrived promptly at the hotel door and we didn’t have to walk a kilometer down the steep hill with our luggage in the rain (my mother was sure our wheeled suitcases would take off with us clinging for dear life – I pointed out this would be one way to arrive quickly). He brought us to Avallon, a town 20 kilometers away on the River Cousin, which some feel could have been the Avalon of King Arthur. There were no knights of the Round Table or anything else at the Gare, which, most unfortunately for us, was closed for renovation.
The Arena in Nimes, which still
hosts bullfights!

Sunday, September 12, 2021

France 2021, Day 4 - Vézelay

My mother had set her heart on visiting Vézelay Abbey, a Benedictine and Cluniac monastery in Vézelay, a remote part of Burgundy. It was built in the 12th century and is now known as the 
Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine (Mary Magdalene) (if I had time I would explain to you that she was not a prostitute, as many have implied - that is all spiteful legend, probably started by Apostles who didn't want their all-boy fan club disrupted - but I can’t charge my laptop at this hotel so the so-to-speak clock is ticking). I must have done the search for trains or other transportation 50 times (hoping for different results) and I also emailed the tourist office in Vézelay, which politely told me (in French) their village was lovely but difficult to visit without a car. So not helpful! I was tempted a dozen times to tell my mother we just couldn’t squeeze it into our trip but I finally figured out logistics that would be stressful but might just work if some Good Samaritan would call us a taxi or two. I decided the best time to travel to V
ézelay was between Paris and Provence because after our cruise we will want to take our Covid tests and leave as speedily as possible, even though it is closer to Lyon where our cruise ends. 

Friday, September 10, 2021

France 2021, Day 3

Every day in France should be a chocolate croissant day – and today was! After breakfast, we took advantage of our two-day unlimited Metro pass and headed off to the Musée D’Orsay.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

France 2021, Day 2

France has mandated a Pass Sanitaire (a health pass) to enable access to cultural venues, such as museums, as well as all restaurants and bars, for employees as well as customers (it was smart - now 77% of those eligible are vaccinated). I tried very hard to get these in time for our trip, uploading our documents several times. The requirements kept changing and there were no explanations, only an automatic receipt. Last week I read the government was weeks behind in processing applications and tourists might have to take a Covid test every 72 hours. As there were several cultural destinations planned for our three days in Paris, I decided to test our luck at the Musée D’Orsay, a day in advance of our ticketed visit. The first guard consulted said we could not get in without the Pass but his nicer colleague, when I crept back a few minutes later and waved my vaccine card, said we could just show our documentation. This tracked to online advice I had seen to be polite but persistent, asking for a manager if necessary, and it has worked for us since.  It is startling to be asked by our waiters for our Pass, however, especially when eating outside. but we are glad everyone is taking precautions. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

France 2021, Day 1

After our trip to Paris and Provence was canceled in 2019 and 2020, it was hard to believe it would actually ever happen, but here we are! Despite an inconvenient and lengthy Boston-LaGuardia-JFK connection, we arrived safely in Paris at dawn on Monday and began a long but straightforward trek to Hôtel La Nouvelle République in the 11th arrondissement. It was too early for our room to be ready so we had tea and pain au chocolat in its small restaurant, left our belongings, and returned to the Metro.

Monday, September 6, 2021

August 2021 Reads

Some thoughts on my August reading:

Mystery and Suspense

City of the Lost (Rockton #1) by Kelley Armstrong

A Darkness Absolute (Rockton #2) by Kelley Armstrong

This Fallen Prey (Rockton #3) by Kelley Armstrong – These Rockton books are a seven-book series about Casey Butler, a homicide detective living in an isolated town in the Yukon where people go who don’t want to be found.   I am enjoying them, so long as I don’t have to go live there!  I recommended the first book to my sister around August 5th and she is already on book 5!

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Six Degrees of Separation — from Second Place to H is for Hawk

It’s time for #6degrees, inspired by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. We all start at the same place, add six books, and see where we end up. This month’s starting point is Second Place by Rachel Cusk, a new book about an obsession with a famous painter. It is hard to tell where this book it set – the author leaves it vague, although it is inspired by a story that takes place in Taos, New Mexico.